Coug OL commit Andy Roof draws NFL comparison

BECAUSE <b>ANDY ROOF</b> verbally committed to Washington State way back in June, the recruiting focus has understandably turned more toward the undecided prospects. But <i>Cougfan.com</i> recently spoke to East Valley head coach Adam Fisher about the Spokane star. To say Roof is impressive is an understatement of Herculean proportion. Literally.

Roof has always been naturally strong -- it's one of the reasons he's been hearing from college coaches since he was a freshman. But the sheer strength Andy Roof possesses—the numbers just leap off the page.

"Benji Olson, (the right guard for the Tennessee Titans who has started every game the past five seasons), and I played together at South Kitsap and Andy is very comparable to what Benji was in high school, except Andy is a little bigger and stronger," said Fisher, head coach at East Valley the past four seasons.

"Benji was 6-4 and 280 pounds coming out of high school and Andy is 6-4, 300 pounds."

"Andy is stronger on his squats, his bench and his clean than Benji was in high school. Both had exceptionally great feet coming out of high school.. There's a lot of similarities between the two (as far as on the field performance, statistically.) The sky is the limit for Andy."

Roof's bench press is 330-lbs, which is a very impressive lift for a high school player. But that's the least of the three benchmarks; the other two being the squat and the power-clean.

Roof has a 650-lb. squat. That is not a misprint: 650-lbs. At the college and pro levels, that's a very noteworthy lift. At the high school level, that's simply amazing.

"I've had numerous recruiters come in.. (a University of Oregon coach) came in and saw him lift and he was saying, ‘We don't have guys lift like this—this much—at Oregon.'"

"I've watched him do 370-lbs in the power clean, so has (the Oregon coach)," said Fisher. "That's a lot of weight to lift from the ground so explosively. I played at Eastern (Washington University), and nobody did that there."

To put Roof's strength further into perspective, there were offensive linemen selected in the first two rounds of last year's NFL draft that didn't have the strength numbers Roof has in the squat and power clean.

"In the weight room, his work ethic is incredible," said Fisher. "He's a guy that's second to none.. Some guys have great talent on the field and it's (a bit of a struggle) to get them working at a high level of productivity in the weight room. Not Andy. He really enjoys it."

But strength alone, even if its preternatural strength, hardly guarantees a great lineman.

A player, and especially an offensive lineman, has to have a burning desire to develop, hone and prefect his technique. He also has to be a great student in the film room, as offensive coordinator Mike Levenseller told CF.C in a three-part interview published earlier.

Fortunately, there's more to Roof than just his unbelievable strength numbers.
Much more.

"We have our players watch a lot of tape so they can see when a lineman does a good job, or makes a mistake, how it affects the specific play AND the overall game," said Fisher.

"He's quiet in the film room.. He's not there to chat, he's there to watch and learn and study. And he did a great job of helping our younger linemen who have potential, saying ‘Look, you've just got to maintain blocks and bury him. You just don't pass guys off..'"

"He's not looking at what the running back is doing, he's watching what foot he stepped with and where his head placement is, if its on the right pad. He understands all that. And at the college level, its obviously just that much more important. He has a very good base to build on there (with regard to film study.")

And there's also that intangible asset, the one coaches seek out in players—Roof wants the ball at crunch time. Figuratively speaking, of course.

"Once he's on the field, he's an extreme competitor. On offense, he wants the ball run behind him. He's a guy that on game day, you want on your side," said Fisher.

"He's very focused and very determined to get the job done.. In critical situations, if it's a 3rd and short, 4th and short.. he'll say ‘Run behind me.' If you need a drive started, he says he'll get it going.. He was a great leader on the field."

East Valley is a run-oriented offense and that's where Roof excels; drive blocking opponents into the ground. But that doesn't mean his pass blocking should be overlooked. Roof is the total package.

"He has great feet, he doesn't get out of position, (when pass blocking)," Fisher said.

What else sets Roof apart? His athleticism. "There's a lot of big guys out there playing college football," said Fisher.

"But he's a guy that can really move, he's (athletic enough) to play basketball.. he can dunk a ball. He has a 28 inch vertical leap.. at 300-lbs."

"He changes direction very well for that big a guy - and he's only going to get better. I'd think he'll make the transition to the next level about as well as you can."

That's an important point - transition.

Its east to get carried away when thinking of Roof, given his skills and strength. But remember, he is 18-years old and will be a true freshman. There will be a period of adjustment to Div 1-A football.

What makes Roof special is the level he's already attained, but then looking at that in the context of his career.. and not necessarily what he will contribute in 2004.

Coach Fisher correctly pointed out the players at Washington State are in a program that's been in the top ten the last three years and for an 18 year-old player—and a lineman at that—to come in and be better than those kids right off the bat is nearly unfathomable.

There is talented depth across the board at Washington State -- the offensive line is no exception. An offensive lineman is also one of the more difficult positions to master; a star freshman running back has a better chance of being able to contribute early than does a star offensive guard; the position WSU is projecting Roof to play.

But the potential for Roof to be a great one is definitely right there. There is no ceiling and the sky's the limit.

His strength is phenomenal for a high school player. His work ethic is very strong, as is his desire to watch film and study in order to get better. He simply has great feet, and his athleticism for his size is impressive to say the least.

And he has that one thing all premiere athletes have—when its on the line, they want it all on their shoulders.

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